The Truth About Chickens Used For Food
Chickens are inquisitive, interesting animals who are as smart as cats, dogs and even some primates. They are very social and like to spend their days together, scratching for food, taking dust baths, roosting in trees and lying in the sun.
The late Dr Chris Evans, former administrator of the animal behaviour lab at Australia’s Macquarie University, said, “As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list [chickens’] attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I’m talking about monkeys”.
But chickens raised on Australian factory farms are never given the opportunity to do anything that is natural or important to them. A baby chick on a factory farm will never be allowed contact with his or her parents, let alone be raised by them. These birds are deprived of the chance to take dust baths, feel the sun on their backs, breathe fresh air, roost in trees and build nests.
Chickens are arguably the most abused animal on Earth. More chickens are raised and killed for food than all other land animals combined, and most of them will spend their lives in total confinement– from the moment they hatch until the day they are slaughtered. In addition to common welfare concerns, there is currently no means of enforcing voluntary codes of practice related to the labelling of meat and eggs from chickens– which makes it impossible for consumers to know how their “free range” chicken meat or “barn laid” eggs were really produced.
Chickens raised for their flesh– called “broilers” by the chicken industry– spend their entire lives in filthy sheds with tens of thousands of other birds, where extreme crowding and confinement lead to outbreaks of disease. They are bred to grow so large so quickly that their legs and organs can’t keep up, making heart attacks, organ failure and leg deformities common. Many become crippled under their own weight and die miserably from dehydration because they can’t get to the water nozzles. When they are only 6 or 7 weeks old, they are crammed into cages and sent to slaughter.
Birds exploited for their eggs– called “laying hens” by the egg industry – are crammed together in wire cages without sufficient room even to spread one wing. Because the hens are packed together so tightly, these normally clean animals are forced to urinate and defecate on one another. The birds have part of their sensitive beaks cut off so that they won’t peck each other out of the frustration created by this unnatural confinement.
Because the male chicks of these birds are unable to lay eggs and are not bred to produce the excessive flesh desired by the meat industry, the tiny birds are gassed to death with carbon dioxide or ground up alive immediately after hatching. Females follow their mothers into a short, miserable life of confinement. After their bodies are worn out and their production drops, they are transported to slaughter, generally to be turned into low-grade meat for chicken soup or cat or dog food because their flesh is too bruised and battered to be used for much else. It is common for birds to sustain broken wings and legs from rough handling, and many die from the stress of the journey.
At the abattoir, the birds’ legs are forced into shackles, their throats are cut and they are plunged into scalding-hot water to remove their feathers. Because of the automated slaughter lines, many chickens are still conscious when their throats are cut, and others die from being scalded in the feather-removal tanks after missing the throat cutter.
You can help prevent these horrors. Order your free vegetarian/vegan starter kit for tips and recipes to assist you in choosing cruelty-free foods from now on.